Afghanistan produced a sensational fightback to stun Sri Lanka by four runs in a thriller and clinch a spot in the semifinals of the ongoing ICC U-19 Men’s World Cup 2022 in Coolidge, Antigua on Thursday. The junior Afghans thus matched their achievement from the 2018 tournament in New Zealand. (More Cricket News)
Despite only setting a target of 135, a superb performance with the ball means Suliman Safi’s side just did enough to progress from the Super League quarterfinals. A composed 61-ball 34 from skipper Dunith Wellalage gave a hint that Sri Lanka would do well to get over the line but that wasn’t meant to be.
Afghanistan will now face England in the first Super League semifinal at the Sir Viv Richards Cricket Ground on February 1. The other quarterfinals include Pakistan vs Australia and India vs defending champions Bangladesh. A India vs Pakistan semifinal is on cards.
Thank you Legend!— Afghanistan Cricket Board (@ACBofficials) January 28, 2022
Sir Lankan legend @MahelaJay had something to say our FutureStars after their impressive over SL in quarter Final.
Note them, boys; these words are priceless!#FutureStars | #AFGvSL | #U19CWC2022 pic.twitter.com/rXKfCfmuM5
Sent into bat first, Afghanistan openers Nangeyalia Kharote and Bilal Sayedi looked solid for the opening ten overs before Traveeen Mathew struck with a wicked delivery that removed the latter.
Kharote departed in the very next over and when skipper Safi and Ijaz Ahmadzai lost their wickets, Afghanistan were reeling at 26 for 4. But crucial knocks from middle-order batsmen Abdul Hadi (37) and Noor Ahmed (30) steadied the Afghanistan ship.
Hadi hit three fours and six and Ahmed’s four sixes helped Afghanistan to cross past 100-run mark. Vinjua Ranpul then helped clear out the tail for Sri Lanka, ending with a five-wicket haul at the expense of just ten runs. When he trapped Izharulhaq Naveed, Afghanistan were all out for just 134 runs.
In reply, Sri Lanka were shaky from the start. Opener Sadisha Rajapaksa went for a duck in the opening over, and his replacement Shevon Daniel went for just 2 after he was clean bowled by Bilal Sami.
ATTAN 🕺— Afghanistan Cricket Board (@ACBofficials) January 27, 2022
The future stars “have got some moves” to celebrate their qualification to the 🔺 4️⃣ at the ICC U19 CWC 2022. They are walking ATTAN which is our traditional dance and has a special place in our culture. #FutureStars | #AFGvSL | #U19CWC2022 pic.twitter.com/NZzaEEOJKd
After 13 overs, they were in a worse position than Afghanistan were during their innings. Noor Ahmed then produced a cracking delivery to remove Ranuda Somarathne before Sri Lanka lost two more to be at 43/7 in the 18th over.
From that point, Sri Lanka’s dreams of lifting their maiden ICC U-19 Men’s World Cup title were fading fast. However, an eighth-wicket partnership between captain Wellalage and Raveen de Silva looked like it might save the day, taking Sri Lanka from 43 for 7 to 112.
Kharote then took the crucial wicket of the skipper, who played cheaply, before Naveed claimed the wicket of de Silva to set up a nerve-jangling finish. Sri Lanka got to within five runs of victory, but their fourth run-out of the innings cost Mathew the final wicket and gave Afghanistan a dramatic victory.
With inputs from ICC